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In this book, Michael Kovner presents - with line, color and words - his portrait of a port: its visual and conceptual uniqueness, its legendary and utopian aspects. Poetry, description and documentation complete Michael Kovner’s portscapes.

In Conclusion (the port)

Our national memory of the sea and of the ports brings forth clear images of the Dolphin and the Dakar, the Patria, the merchant ships of Zim, the sailors’ strike, the Maccabee’s battle against Rome — all become chapters in the story of the sea, which is tamed by a port that claims it for its own. Out of nothing, the word “port” triggers these symbols in the collective consciousness.
The great idea of self-realization now appears to us in a new and surprising image, that is very different from what it was originally. Encountering it thus in its new form, beaten and exhausted, begs the question: “Was it just a dream?”


Zim which, more than anything else, symbolizes the realization of the dream of Hebrew shipping, grew from German reparation monies, becoming a national institution and a symbol of success. Yet now it is struggling for its very existence. From a national asset and symbol, it is passing into private hands and paves its way in the hard reality of international competition.
The ports are being expanded and mighty new ships moor at our shores but they go unnoticed.
Can the port become a permanent symbol of our experience?


In his book Hanging Gardens, Gideon Ofrat writes: “A person goes along and sees an orchard, sees a donkey, sees a sabra cactus, sees a place. He goes home and creates a culture, and everything that caught his eye on the way, the private and the accidental, will be considered by that person and by his neighbors to be a new concept. And then what belonged to him as an individual will become general and fixed, as long as the open space constitutes his and his neighbors’ consciousness and sub consciousness.”
Historical memory that embodies shared human experience is the condition for the creation of a culture. In turning our backs to the sea and to the port, to the mythological possibilities that are latent in this special enterprise that is close to our very being, we are sealing the resonance box of the song of our existence.

A selection of pages from "Portscapes"

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